Instagram showed off its first ads inside the Stories section, and it is giving businesses more ways to track how well their unpaid Stories perform. On Wednesday, the photo- and video-sharing app unveiled exactly how the new ads will appear inside the Stories -- they take up the full vertical screen and run in between different users' posts.
The vertical video ads are basically a copycat of the style pioneered by Snapchat, only longer. They can run for 15 seconds, and there are sponsored photos that last for 5 seconds, but they are instantly skippable, too.
One of the chief advantages for the platform over Snapchat is the ad technology and data targeting. Snapchat's ad platform is still nascent and developing while Instagram's is built on top of Facebook and backed by its insights into nearly 2 billion monthly users.
"Ads in Stories will let you use targeting, reach and measurement capabilities that make your ads personally relevant to the people you want to reach," Instagram said in a blog post, announcing the new offerings.
It also said that the ads in Stories would eventually offer more business objectives with direct-response ad units.
Ad Age was the first to report on the ad tests, calling them a "mid-roll" format, popping up inside Stories.
Instagram said they are not technically a "mid-roll." They play after one story and before another, but do not interrupt individual stories.
Instagram stories were developed to co-opt one of the more popular user behaviors on Snapchat, a pesky rival that has consumed the attention of young people and advertisers. Stories are for people, web celebrities, publishers and brands to share running video diaries of their days, which last for 24 hours.
Instagram says 150 million people visit Stories every day, which is the same audience size claimed by Snapchat.
Now, it's serving basically the same style ad into the platform. Instagram said it will not split ad revenue with story creators or publishers.
However, the section has become its own robust promotion play for brands, publishers and personalities to grow their followings and boost their own content. Instagram said 70% of users follow a business and one-third of the "most viewed" stories are from businesses.
To that end, Instagram also announced new ways for businesses to track the performance of Stories. It released "Stories Insights," which measures audience size, view numbers, replies and exit stats for people leaving stories.
Instagram said that about 30 brands were part of the video ads tests, including Nike, Buick, Netflix, Airbnb, Capital One and ASOS.